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Chocolate Whirligigs

Saturday, August 9th, 2008

Chocolate Whirligigs.

I first made this recipe while in college and brought a few samples to class to share with some classmates. It was the beginning of the quarter and I didn’t know my new classmates well yet, so when I offered them some cookies and said that I had made them, they didn’t believe me. Apparently, not too many guys make cookies in college, so I had to describe in detail both the ingredients and how I made them before they reluctantly acknowledged that maybe I really had made them.

I don’t make a lot of refrigerator roll cookies since they are definitely a bit more effort than drop-style cookies. This is clearly evidenced by the 27 pictures in the complete recipe gallery. Nevertheless, the break that chilling dough in the refrigerator affords can sometimes be welcome. I took advantage of this and made these cookies over three days.

Chocolate Whirligigs.This was also the first recipe I had to try out my new rolling pin rings. I was thinking about making some myself when I saw these in a specialty shop in Santa Cruz. These little rings come in several thicknesses and go on your rolling pin, making it nearly impossible to roll dough of uneven thickness. A big pastry board or surface definitely helps, and your rolling pin can’t be curved. Getting each layer to be a nice rectangle is enough trouble, so I appreciated not having to worry about the thickness.

These cookies were pretty forgiving when it came to browning. I was a little worried once I realized after rolling that I was going to have chocolate edges on the cookies, which makes for more difficult diagnosis of doneness since the edges are already brown. I used the vanilla portions of the cookies as a guide and aimed for very light browning, which yielded a very delicate cookie, but you can also go for more pronounced browning if you want a crisper cookie.

The original recipe called for unsweetened chocolate, and although there are now excellent brands of unsweetened chocolate like Scharffen Berger, I opted to toss in the 87% Dagoba bar I had sitting around since it was also exactly 2 ounces. As much as I love dark chocolate, even I have limits, and 87% is just too dark for nibbling on. If you are curious, my preference is 72% – 76%. Even though 2 ounces didn’t seem like much, the chocolate flavor in the cookies is wonderful.

Take your time, roll out the dough carefully, and you just might have to convince people you made these yourself, too.


Ingredients for making Chocolate Whirligigs.


Mix 1 cup of room temperature butter, 1 cup sugar, 2 egg yolks and 2 teaspoons vanilla until light and fluffy.


Slowly mix in 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of milk. Beat thoroughly until smooth.


Add 1 teaspoon of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of salt to 3 cups of flour and gently mix with whisk until blended.


Slowly add the dry ingredients to the dough, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula to ensure even mixing.


Roll the dough into a ball and split into equal halves.


Slowly melt 2 ounces of dark chocolate in the microwave using short, 10 second bursts, stirring between heatings. Mix the melted chocolate into one half of the dough.


Wrap each half of the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.


Roll each dough half on lightly floured wax paper into a 9 x 13 inch rectangle. Trim edges as needed to get a nice rectangle, dusting rolling pin with flour as needed.


Make sure each half is the same size rectangle as any discrepancies in size will need to be trimmed and sacrificed to the dough tasters.


Carefully invert one layer over the other and remove the top sheet of wax paper. Tightly roll the dough from the short side into a roll, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.


Remove dough from refrigerator and gently press and roll it to get it back into round as best you can. Slice the dough into 3/8 inch slices. Slice all the dough at once or return to fridge between sheets, as slicing is difficult when dough warms.


Place cookie slices on ungreased cookie sheets 1 inch apart.


Bake in 375° F oven for 8 – 11 minutes or until cookies begin to brown.


Immediately remove cookies from baking sheets and transfer to cooling racks.

The recipe pictured above, with detailed instructions and exhaustive photo gallery can be found on the Chocolate Whirligigs recipe page.